Tuesday, June 15, 2010
The main fact:
A group with superstars and an unknown "Kim Il-Sung".
Coach : Dunga
Appearances : 19
Best Result : Champions 1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002
FIFA Rank : 1st
Key : Kaka, Robinho, Luis Fabiano.
The Samba King is the only nation that have qualified in 19 consecutive World Cups ever, or the only nation to play in every single final's tournament. They have gained the most tournament titles with five in three different continents, the only country to ever win tournament outside their own continent. They are also being the first FIFA rank and one of the top giant favorites. Now they are heading to South Africa, again after experiencing success on the same land last summer by winning the Confederations Cup 2009. With tons of extraordinary talents, Brazil can be a shadow squad under similar level lead by superstars such as Ronaldinho, Pato, even Marcelo and Heurelho Gomes. They live by the following philosophy, *big names might win matches, but a group win titles*. So far it has worked well. Led by coach Dunga, the former player, captain, and world cup winner for Brazil at USA '94, it seems all element of Brazilians are focused to return to the podium for the sixth time record. But still they have to start carefully concerning one of the toughest World Cup Groups assembled. One small slip-up could mean an early final with Spain in Round 16.
Coach : Sven-Goran Eriksson
Appearances : 1
Best Result : First Round 2006
FIFA Rank : 27th
Key : The Toure Bros, Salomon Kalou, Didier Drogba.
The Ivory Coast has a team full of players who have made big impacts in European club soccer, it has been touted by many to be the African nation with the best chance to win the world cup. But wait, what did they do to get two terrible World Cup draws in a row? In 2006 they got Argentina, Netherlands, Serbia & Montenegro, and now get along with #1 ranked team Brazil, Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal and the mysterious North Korea? Football is football, they really need more than hard play and .. hard to say it, "pray hard". Their opening match against Portugal may be the most important step to advance, seems they will make it with 100% of Didier Drogba. With other European stars include Emmanuel Eboue, the Toure brothers, Sevilla's Didier Zokora also Salomon Kalou, they should be able to make up their missing mate. The Elephants have a shot to proof they still can win the highest level of football.
Coach : Kim Jong Hun
Appearances : 1
Best Result : Quarterfinals 1966
FIFA Rank : 105th
Key : Myong-Guk, Jong Tae-Se.
North Korea is the lowest ranked team in this world cup, this is their first comeback after their last round in 1966. The Choilima back to business is by qualifying second behind South Korea and scored only 7 goals in 8 games although they have better goal differential over Saudi Arabia. After spending over 40 years off the world stage, they should prepare to get disappointed to unfavorable draw result into unfriendly group. Otherwise, as a team which is very much unknown, they do have all the experiences to cause problems with an unfamiliar style of play to others. The team leader will likely be Myong-Guk who is recorded ten shutouts in qualifying, or Jong Tae-Se who have alias "Wayne Rooney from North Korea". They will concede possession and play counter attack, because their reputation on strong defense will be messed apart this time to keep them out from predators likes of Robinho, Ronaldo, also Drogba.
Coach : Carlos Quieroz
Appearances : 4
Best Result : Third Place 1966
FIFA Rank : 3th
Key : Paulo Ferreira, Deco, Cristiano Ronaldo.
Portugal has qualified for its fifth World Cup appearances after reaching semifinals against France in Germany 2006. As the third ranked in the world now, they do not seem to be as good as the 2006 team and being qualified second in the group behind Denmark. Selecao needed an aggregate playoff win to advance, and they weren't that impressive. Based on offensive minded, Portugal remains to do so. With the highly marketable Ronaldo, for his talent I mean, he needs more effort to make dramatic impression and to score as well on the national stage like the club level. One thing to worry about is their defense and midfield since Bosingwa, Pepe and Nani weren't lucky enough to comprise primarily of the injured. But some golden generation talent can fill in with Ferreira, Bruno Alves and Miguel Veloso will be expected to step up. In overcoming the Elephants, the Navigators have good memory to beat the coach Sven-Goran Eriksson once again this time after Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006.
As the first game always gives an impact, Portugal to meet the Ivory Coast is obviously one of the big match and the winner will take it all. Otherwise to think that Navigators vs the Elephants should end in a draw which means that is going into the last day with Brazil that may be already leading by 6 points in determining opportunities against Portugal at last. The current Brazil side is different to previous incarnations that has graced the world stage. They look defensively solid with one of the best goalkeepers ever had in Julio Caesar and the quartet (Maicon, Lucio, Juan/Alex, Dani Alves).
With Portugal's schedule looks a bit shaky, the Ivory Coast is definitely still has a chance of reaching the knockout stage. This could be a massive blow to Ivory Coast even by Portugal struggling. Finally their advantages in last matches could bring them to the next level, and the only thing North Koreans can hope for is doing better than an unknown quantity in world football. They're not so bad, it's only a matter that they sink in a wrong race to against improper match.
MY ORACLE :
Brazil (7), Ivory Coast (5), Portugal (4), North Korea (0).